According to Airway1, the Brazilian state-controlled company Empresa Gerencial de Projetos Navais (EMGEPRON) intends to issue a tender on 27 September to sell the hull of former Brazilian Navy aircraft carrier NAe São Paulo (A12), for a minimum of BRL 5.3 million (USD 1.3 million), roughly a tenth of what the country paid to buy the ship from France nearly two decades ago.
The Brazilians formally decided to decommission the flattop two years ago, which has left the fate of the country’s AF-1 Skyhawk carrier-based combat jets in limbo ever since.
While still active, Sao Paulo was the oldest aircraft carrier in the world. The vessel was launched in 1960 and served with the French navy under the name FS Foch from 1963 until 2000.
Under French identity, the 32,800-ton, 265-meter-long vessel served on combat fronts in Africa. , Middle East and Europe.
With the Brazilian Navy, however, the vessel had a short and rather troubled career, marked by a number of mechanical problems and accidents. Because of these mishaps, the ship spent more time standing still than sailing. In February 2017, after giving up on upgrading the aircraft carrier, the naval command decided to permanently disable Sao Paulo.
During its service for the Brazilian Navy, NAe São Paulo spent 206 days at sea and sailed 85.344 km. The ship, which is moored at the state-controlled shipyard Arsenal de Marinha do Rio de Janeiro (AMRJ), was decommissioned on 22 November 2018.
According to data from the Brazilian navy, Sao Paulo spent a total of 206 days at sea, sailed 54,024.6 miles (85,334 km), and performed 566 aircraft launch by catapult. The main aircraft operated on the vessel was the AF-1 naval fighter, a national designation for the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, now operated from ground bases.
Although the Brazilian Navy is now in the midst of a major surface fleet modernization program, financial considerations and questions over the São Paulo’s practical utility have slowed discussions regarding the acquisition of a new aircraft carrier.
As a partial replacement for Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2018 paid $115 million for the Royal Navy’s helicopter carrier HMS Ocean. But the 22,000-ton-displacement Ocean, which the Brazilians renamed Atlantico, cannot support fixed-wing aircraft.
It’s unclear what the Brazilian navy plans to do with its Skyhawks, and whether it considers Atlantico sufficiently prestigious to replace Sao Paulo.
This is particularly the case given that the Navy’s recently acquired amphibious assault ship Atlantico appears poised to capably fulfill much of the same strategic function as that of a traditional carrier. The minimum bidding price for the retired São Paulo is set at $5.3 million.
Brazil’s primary threats do not come from the sea but from land, as Brazil shares its borders with 10 countries, some of which have histories of rebel insurgencies and ongoing troubles with cross-border organized crime groups. One of these countries, Venezuela, is unstable.